I22 THE GAY GENIUS
and described it as a spirit which, when sustained by justice and truth,
fears nothing in the universe.
"What do you mean by the vital spirit?" one of the disciples of
Mencius once asked.
"It is very difficult to describe," Mencius replied. "This spirit is
tremendous and strong. If unobstructed and properly nourished, it1
will fill the whole universe. But it requires for its growth the steady
pursuit of the sense of justice and truth. For without the sense of
justice and truth, the spirit of man withers."
• Given this vital, expansive spirit so characteristic of Su Tungpo's
bubbling personality, he was constantly confronted with an ethical con-
flict, the duty to remain himself and keep up the fearless spirit born
in man, and the other equally important duty of self-preservation. At
different times in Su Tungpo's career the conflict became acute and
usually the duty to remain himself won. I do not think it ever was vejaj
much of a struggle for Su Tungpo. The vitality of his great genius^
constantly demanded free and unfettered expression.
"Beautiful lines come and will not be denied.
How can I alter them as favours to friends ?
The apes and wild geese cry on mountaintops,
Unaware of passers-by in the valley below."
So Tungpo spent the mid-autumn festival with his brother's fa
It was a memorable mid-autumn, one which he recalled later with
regret, and the only one which he could spend with his brother for nt
next six years. The parting was hard and Tseyu decided to accompany
his brother as far as Yingchow (modern Fouyang), eighty miles down
the river, where they again spent over two weeks together in the com-
pany of Ouyang Shiu. Still, the parting had to come. The night before
Tungpo was to sail the two brothers spent together in the boat on the
Ying River, sitting up all night discussing politics and writing poems
to each other. The conclusion of their discussion on politics was
summed up in a poem which Su Tungpo wrote and sent to Tseyu
on his arrival at Hangchow.
"One can see that further opposition is useless,
And to repay the Emperor's favour is beyond one's power now."
A tfaoogk by Mencius came aptly to the brothers' minds: "To expect
tbc Mgbesc of the ruler is to show the highest respect; to guide him
widi good advice and keep unprincipled men away from him is in
duty; but if the ruler -will not take the advice, he